Rebecca, so we're gonna talk about anxiety which is a huge topic.
The first thing for us to really identify is when does it become anxiety?
What is anxiety and how does that differ from, I guess, sort of feelings of anxiousness, which we'll all experience and that's normal from time to time.
Yeah, so feeling worried or fearful because of an external threat is normal.
We all get it from time to time.
I think where that starts to tip into anxiety is where you are getting those feelings really frequently, even in the absence of those threats and particularly where it starts to impact on your day-to-day life and stop you doing the things that you used to enjoy before.
That's when it becomes more worrying.
Those symptoms vary from person to person.
It's a very individual problem, but they can often be really physical.
Yeah, they're not always, "I feel anxious.
" They can be physical symptoms as well or a real mish-mash of symptoms.
Feeling really restless, feeling on edge.
Having problems sleeping and relaxing, being irritable, this sense of muscle tension and kind of being on edge, and even in terms of problems concentrating and focusing on things.
So it's often quite difficult for people to identify when they've developed anxiety.
And the causes of anxiety, again, can be really wide varying, can't they?
So it can be from childhood experiences, it can be things going on in people's lives right now.
It can even be concerns and worries about things that might happen in the future.
Yeah, and I think that makes it really difficult for people to be able to identify the triggers.
So as you said, previous trauma from the past or from your childhood, difficulties in your day-to-day life as well as physical and mental health problems can all be triggers, and I think often the challenge is that the mechanisms that people have to deal with the anxiety, like smoking or alcohol or drug taking, even medication that you take can also all be triggers.
They can all add to the problem, and become problems of their own.
So what advice would you give for people who think they may be suffering with anxiety?
I guess if we start off with some more sort of self-help type advice, what are some of the things people can do?
I think going back to basics is really important and sleep is key with anxiety, 'cause it can be a symptom but it can also be a good way of managing it.
So going back to basics there.
Diet also very important in terms of not relying on junk food, making sure that you are eating a healthy and varied diet.
And looking after your gut, 'cause the gut and the brain and our emotions are all connected.
I always recommend that there's no such thing as a silly question.
If you think that you're suffering from anxiety, lean into your peer support network, whether that's at home, whether that's your family, your friends, your loved ones, always worth just opening up to them and talking to them about it.
And I think, as I mentioned at the start, anxiety is a big topic, and things like post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, these are all conditions that have anxiety at at the core of them, anxiety-related conditions, so it can be quite varied.
So yeah, I agree what you say.
If you're concerned about it, then do look into it a bit further.
What other tips do you have that might help people manage anxiety?
So breathing exercises can be really helpful.
Even something as simple as breathing in three seconds, holding for three seconds and then breathing out for three seconds can just act as a checkpoint to kind of stop the anxious thoughts.
I think the other things that can be really helpful is about focusing on prioritising what you need to worry about and what you don't need to worry about, and learning to kind of ring fence some of your time And let some things go.
And then also I think people's gut reaction is to avoid situations that might make them feel more anxious, whether that's going on public transport or doing presentations, for example, but actually if you do that, then that becomes really entrenched as a behaviour.
So actually the important thing is to still do those things, but to do it in a way that makes you feel safer.
So maybe with somebody or on a quiet day.
Or graduated, doing five minutes and then building that up to 10 minutes and then building that up from there on, so I think it's about sort of really supporting yourself and being kind to yourself.
And there's a place for medication as well.
It's not for everybody.
I certainly took medication, it really helped me.
I don't anymore, but for a period of time it was helpful.
But if we're get into that stage, do go and see your GP, who can explain the whole range of different therapies and treatments, including things like talking therapy as well, to find out what's gonna work best for you as an individual.
Yeah, there's a massive toolkit available to you and I think if you're really finding it hard to navigate where to go next, your GP is a great first protocol.